Monday, 31 July 2017

GIVEAWAY! "At The Bottom Of My Garden" rhyme and sign book


** This beautiful book is supported by BRITISH SIGN LANGUAGE (BSL) ** 

"Come and see my new friends" my littlest daughter says as she takes my hand and leads me into the woods to meet a new bug or worm that has caught her eye. Her adventures inspired this story, her love of nature and her questions about the world around her. She loves to give the creatures she sees a personality.

 At the Bottom of My Garden is the second in the series of 'Rhyme and Sign' Adventures. We've been sure to include all the things you loved so much when reading Our Farmyard Friends. A rhyming a repetitive story line (enabling little ones to join in easily), beautiful illustrations (we invite you to spot the surprise additions!) and the enjoyment you will get from signing alongside your baby, toddler or pre-schooler. 
At the Bottom of My Garden captures the awe and wonder of childhood explorations whilst supporting emerging literacy and language skills with the addition of key BSL signs to enable little ones to retain and recall information more easily. Developed in conjunction with Little Signers Club.


We have been lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to read and review this fantastic book. We very much enjoyed the first in the series "Our farmyard friends" and many of my mindees can now sign the names of farm animals as well as other key words in the story. So being asked to review the second book was very exciting! It timed nicely with our "Minibeast" topic too!

The great thing about this book is that before you read to your child there are a whole heap of useful tips on how to get the most from the story and signing. This makes it suitable for any stage in your signing journey with your little one. There is a section on helpful tips and hand shapes which will make the signing much easier. 

The story has a fantastic repetitive feel to it that will engage children. Mine picked it up very quickly and joined in each time. They loved seeing a new bug on every page! The descriptions of each are so cute and all written with a rhyming flow. 


The links to the EYFS with this book are endless. Not only does it increase language and vocabulary but by including signs it makes this inclusive of all ages and abilities. The introduction to new descriptive words support children's language development and ability to describe the world around them. The Bugs in this story and the bright pictures of their homes and appearance help children to build an understanding of our native minibeasts. How they live, the habitats they are likely to be found in their unique qualities. Spiders making webs, snails in their shell. Each one is different! 

  • Communication and language
  • Physical Development
  • Personal, Social and Emotional
  • Literacy
  • Understanding the world

You can expand on the learning potential of this book by offering extra play experiences.
My little ones enjoyed the pictures and soon sat to draw their own bugs. This book inspired their creativity and before long we had paints, pens and playdough out. drawing, modeling and painting their own bugs! They even created new ones!!
We have also counted the different coloured flowers on the page, spots on the ladybird, legs on the caterpillar. Talked about which is the bigger fly, recognised colours. 
  • Mathematics
  • Expressive Art and Design

Here is your chance to win one of 3 copies in this fantastic Giveaway! 

All you have to do is follow the links bellow and comment on this post to enter. The more options you select the more chances you have of winning!

Should you not be lucky enough to win on this occasion or just can't wait to get your copy, then I am offering you all a chance to purchase the book at a 20% discount! 
Just pop along to Little Signers shop and include the discount code at checkout! 

Coupon code:  WORMSEYE (valid until 31/08/17)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, 30 July 2017


There are some foods that I just hate to dish up at meal times. It was bad enough when my boys were little, but I had a dog to help with the clean up. Now my dog is sadly no longer with us and I have many children at my table every day! Childminding is a great job!

BUT....... some food is just down right yucky to clear up! I have had it all. Spaghetti stuck to the walls and ketchup on my ceiling! But here are my top"5 MOST HATED FOODS TO DISH UP". Especially to babies!

Number 1
The aforementioned Spaghetti! Not only is it a food that no one can eat politely but it seems to migrate around the kitchen as if by magic! If there happens to be a piece that has avoided the sauce coating you can guarantee it will be found sticking to something it shouldn't. Walls, chairs, the back of another child! It seems intent on avoiding being eaten at all costs. I have even witnessed it escaping from a child's nose after a poorly timed sneeze!

Number 2
Peas! They look harmless enough. What could they possibly do to wind me up so much? I will tell you what they do. They avoid being eaten too! They jump off plates and role under my appliances. It's like an AGM for Peas under my fridge. They are all dried up and hard by now, but there they sit.... just out of reach of my hoover nozzle. Taunting me! And should one of them not make it to safety under my fridge then I inevitably end up stepping on it and then I end up with a green mush on my floor and my sock! Unlike the Spaghetti which likes to exit the nose.... This little bugger likes to go up noses! What is it with kids and the need to stick small items in small holes!?

Number 3
Banana. Babies and bananas are like tea and cake are they not? Perfectly matched? NO!! 
You hand a banana to a baby and it is turned in to a squashed lump of half sucked mucus! As if that is not gross enough it dries like cement if you are not quick to remove it! It is the stealth fruit in the fruit bowl. The Ninja fruit for ruining clothes. You think you got away with it..... you think you got the top in the wash quick enough..... you can see nothing when you fold up that top and pop it in the draw. But in a weeks time it seems to have "developed" slowly like an old Polaroid picture. The picture in this case is a big browny grey stain that will never come off ever again! I recon it is what they make permanent marker pens out of!

Number 4
Weetabix. This is not only a messy food going in but gives me merry hell on the way out! Another food that seems to set like cement in minutes. Miss the slightest bit during clean up and you will need a hammer and chisel to remove that stray blob! NEVER forget to put the bowl and spoon in soak. Actually sod it. Just serve it up in a paper bowl and bin the lot!
Just when you think the horror is over.... taken a sigh of relief and relaxed.... you see the "Poopy face" being made on your beloved child. Here comes round two! Return of the Weetabix! No amount of water and cotton wool, baby wipes, baby lotion, Scouring pads and Ajax will get those little flakes of wheat off your child's delicate little tooshie! That butt is never going to be clean again!

Number 5
My all time pet hate..... The biggest of all "Most hated food to give to babies" is RICE!
Like Spaghetti it sticks...... to everything. I have seen children leave my table looking like they have an infestation of head lice! Little white blobs embedded in their hair. Not only this, but everyone steps in it because no one can eat without spreading it around the kitchen floor. This creates little areas of starchy sticky goo that drives me crazy with every step till I take my sock off and go bare foot. I could make non slip socks by standing on rice! In fact that is probably how the idea for those came about. Some poor bugger trying to maneuver around their kitchen after feeding their kids rice! It falls between the gaps in my chairs and gaps in floor boards but as soon as you try to scrape it out it disintegrates and spreads itself around a bit more for good measure! RICE........ My arch rival.

So if you ever feed these foods to your children..... remember..... you have been warned! 
Do you have any you would add to this list? I would love to hear your most hated food to feed to kids!


The "Bug sensory tray" has been a big hit. Everyone (including the adults) have had a rummage around in it. There have been grouping of bugs, counting of bugs, moving of bugs around the house and in to the garden (I am sure I have lost a few), The addition of bugs (real live ones) and learning about bug life cycles. 

Have you ever tried to count the legs on a centipede? It's not easy.
Have you ever looked at how a Bee grows from a tiny egg in to a fully grown Bee?

Why do ants like to walk in straight lines when they are gathering food?

We have asked so many questions and looked for the answers using books and the internet. We also like to look at David Attenborough DVD's during these topics because he has such amazing ftage of things we would never get to see in real life!

We are now moving on to Seeds! How do they grow? We have talked a lot about how bugs like to eat plants and we have planted some veg in the garden and talked about keeping them safe from the slugs and snails. So really this is more of a recap on things we looked at a few months ago. It is always good to go back when topics link like this. It shows everything in a "bigger picture" kind of way rather than as separate events. It will also bring us back to the birds that we looked at during nesting season.

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas:
  • Mathematical
  • Communication and Language Development
  • Personal, Social and Emotional development
  • Understanding the world


Following on with the love of Duplo and the learning experiences that are being created through our play, I thought this post was a must for sharing. 

One little child making a long fence. Happily adding new bits to it and talking about how long the fence is. "It's getting longer look!"
Then she runs out of fence and you see her pause for a moment. What now? 
The fence is not very stable in a long line. It wobbles and falls over.
Then she curls the edges round and brings them to meet. Linking them together to make an enclosure.

"Look! I made a field!"
"Wow! What a big field" I say. "What are you going to put in your field?"

"My ponies!"
(I think some of these are sheep..... but she LOVES Ponies so we are going with it....)

Her friend has been making a big house with Duplo and offered for her Ponies to live there. I love the look on her face in this pic..... not totally sure she is pleased about the offer but going to give it a try.

Another friend joins and asks if the ponies want to go in the house. But she declines. Horses go in fields! She puts the people in the house and they talk about where each thing belongs. The add furniture to the house and more animals to the field.
There is a clear understanding here of designated areas. Each thing has it's own place. It is a simple grouping activity happening through play. Learning that some things are the same and some are different.
Being able to sort and catagorise items is important for other daily life skills that children will need to function well as adults. Being able to tidy up your belongings, complete chores such as putting clothes or dishes away. This is the start of some more complex mathematical thinking and Analysing.

Todays play meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas:
  • Physical Development
  • Mathematical
  • Communication and Language Development
  • Personal, Social and Emotional development


My current 2 year olds have started to take an interest in letters that we see around us. I thought I would piggy back on this interest and look at the letters that start their names. A letter that has meaning for them.
We started with large versions on A4 paper. I wrote each child's first initial on the paper and then we used felt pens to write over the top. We said the letter sound while doing this. Pens are easy to make marks with even with very pressure being used. This makes them easy, if not a bit messy, for the little ones to draw with.

We have been practicing these shapes in larger forms with sticks in sand and water on the patio. We are now scaling down the letters to fit on paper. No matter how the letter turn out, each child is praised for their effort. We will continue to make the marks in large form while we practice on paper too. 

Being able to make marks with some form and purpose gives children another outlet for expressing themselves.My ASD sons could draw what upset them or made them angry far before they could verbalise it. Even now my 15 year old will draw when he is stressed or upset. Sometimes simple labeling is enough to share how you feel and get your thoughts across as well as giving the child an outlet. 
Not only this but each time children mark make, they are learning to use tools that they can later use for writing. Holding pens and pencils correctly and getting a feel for how much pressure is required for making the marks. Some tools like pencils can go through the paper if you press to hard. It is all about trial and error and the more access children have to a variety of mark making tools the easier they will find writing later on.

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas:
  • Physical Development
  • Literacy

Saturday, 15 July 2017


We love playing games and I always look for new games that help to support a child's mathematical or literacy development. We picked this up from a car boot sale and it has been a big hit. The game is by a company called Gamewright. 

The blurb on the web site says......
Roll the dice but don't lose your mice! In this fast moving game, try to keep your mice away from the kitty. Roll an arrow and pass one to the left. Roll a sleeping cat and you're lucky to squeak by. But roll a bowl and it's dinner time for kitty! The last player left with mice wins!

 I have found that not only does this encourage turn taking and counting skills as you keep tabs on how many mice you have in your pile, but it also brings in the language of addition and subtraction.  We talk about how many we have now one has been taken away or added. There is talk about more and less. The children start to recognise and estimate how many mice are in a pile just by taking a glance.

If you ever come across this game I really recommend it as a great addition to your collection.  It has become a firm favourite in my setting!

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas:
  • Mathematical
  • Personal, Social and Emotional

Friday, 14 July 2017


A local tree surgeon kindly delivered us a HUGE pile of wood chip this week. We use this to cover all our paths. It makes it easier to see the clear routes through the site and helps with maintenance of the paths. Especially if we lay carpet down first as a weed membrane and the cover with the wood chips. The heat wave has hit this week and it is just too hot to move it. So for now it will have to sit where it is.

We now have 2 Forest school sessions running on our site. One is for childcare professionals and their mindees and the other is for all who wish to attend. Heather (our forest school leader) made sure there was a lot of water play on site to keep everyone cool.

Despite the heat we all had a lot of fun and the session was a hit! I think 2 sessions a week is another great step forward for our little Outdoor Learning Center.

Once we got home we set about filling up our pool ready for the after school children to enjoy when they got home. They were very much ready for a cool down and some fun!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017


We like to mix up our resources quite a lot in my setting. It can bring on some fantastic new experiences for the children. Today we enjoyed some clay and nature exploration. We used different items found outside to press in to the clay and then looked at the marks left in the clay.

Leaves left some really interesting patterns. You could see the veins and outer shape of the leaves after you peeled them of. Some children turned these in to pendents by making a hole in the clay and then left it to dry before threading it on to ribbon or string.

We also used different pieces of bark to explore the patterns they made. Pushing them agains sticks and trees.

Many of our younger children enjoyed rolling balls and then stabbing them with sticks! It might not have been the intended learning outcome but they found their own learning and experience in their play. They pulled the stick out and pointed to the hole, then pushed the stick in to another part of the clay to observe the same result. Repeating this action and reinforcing the learning that marks can be made in this way.

Today's play, meets the following EYFS Prime and specific areas:
  • Communication and Language Development
  • Expressive Art and Design
  • Understanding the world

Monday, 3 July 2017


I have set up some sweet invitations to play this week with the idea that it will encourage conversation and interest in the bugs nd insects we find in the garden and at forest school. We have a couple of very keen bug hunters already so this supports their interests well.
I have incudes some activities that look at planting seeds and growth.  Our sunflowers,  potatoes and tomatoes are doing well so this is a nice follow on activity and great to recap what we learnt when we planted seeds in the spring.

We can also talk about how bugs like to eat the things we have grown and to try out some eco friendly pest maintainance methods to protect our plants. Copper strips have been very effective against the slugs and snails so far!!

We will look at some of our favourite bug rhymes and stories over this time too.


This Sunday I spent a few hours with my eldest visiting local fetes and fun days. We always support the  local Blue Cross rescue center and pop on to any fundraising they do. This is their big summer fundraising event and we love testing our luck on the stalls and raffles!  The cakes are always a big draw too!
We won some goodies for my sisters dogs and shared a frozen yogurt while we were at it!
It was great to see so many people supporting a charity that works tirelessly for our less fortunate animals. If you can, why not contact your local animal rescue and see if you can help them in some way. Walking dogs or buying an item from their wishlist is always very welcomed!

The next stop was a local village fete. It was good fun. Brendan was keen to win a coconut. He has a pretty good aim. Shame he isn't in to cricket! 
Before long that coconut was all his! Then he moved on to the nerf gun challenge.  Sadly he didn't make the leader board but he tried hard.
We did win some cute soft toy dogs at the "hearing dogs for the deaf" stall so that made up for nerf disappointment.

It was a lot of fun hanging out with my biggest lad!


This time of year is always hard work on our Outdoor centre. Everything grows so fast and the brambles very quickly take over.  We have been focusing on clearing pathways during our last couple of work sessions. The problem is they grow back so fast.

We have started to lay strips of carpet down to keep the paths open for longer. We are laying wood chip over the top. It works so well and reuses an item that would have otherwise ended up in landfill whilst repurposing tree waste from a local tree surgeon. Win win!!


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